Poppy site visitors urged to plan their trip carefully

Poppy site visitors urged to plan their trip carefully

Hoping to catch a glimpse of the sea of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London? Then be sure to plan your trip carefully.

As millions of people continue to flock to the memorial, officials are warning of severe overcrowding at the site.

Last week, people were urged to postpone their visits due to overcrowding during the school half-term holiday. Words: PA

But despite pupils across the country returning to schools this week, Transport for London (TfL) said there remained a "large pedestrian presence" around the Tower of London today.

Up to four million people are expected to visit the installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which was created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins.

By Armistice Day on November 11 there will be 888,246 ceramic poppies planted, one for each British and colonial death during the conflict which began 100 years ago.

A spokeswoman for Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the site, said today: "It's still quite busy so we're advising visitors to plan their trips carefully.

"We're encouraging people to visit earlier in the day, before 10am, or later in the day, after 6pm."
Phil Hufton, London Underground's chief operating officer, said Tower Hill station near the memorial had been "extremely busy" and occasionally the station was being closed on police advice.

TfL has urged visitors to the Tower of London to travel to nearby Tube stations Aldgate or Aldgate East or take the DLR to Tower Gateway.

Commuters have also been asked to consider travelling to London Bridge and then walk, cycle or take a bus. Motorists have also been advised not to drive in the area.

Queen visits Tower of London

Historic Royal Palaces said the final poppy will be planted at the memorial on November 11.

Eleven thousand volunteers will then begin removing the installation from November 12, culture minister Ed Vaizey said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, donations during the Royal British Legion's London Poppy Day soared by 25 per cent on last year - with £1.25 million raised in just 12 hours.

Prince Harry welcomed actress Barbara Windsor and war veterans as they called into Buckingham Palace to mark the event last Thursday.

A number of businesses opened their trading floors to collectors in London's Canary Wharf district, with one person donating £1,000 for a pair of cuff-links and another paying £600 for a paper poppy.

Charles Byrne, director of fundraising at the Royal British Legion said: "The generosity of Londoners has been outstanding and I'd like to thank everyone in the capital for showing their support for the armed forces community. We asked London to dig deep and they certainly did, resulting in a 25 per cent increase on last year's total raised.

"The Royal British Legion created the Poppy Appeal to help those returning from the First World War.
A century on from the start of that conflict, we're still helping today's armed forces families in much the same way, whether coping with bereavement, living with disability, or finding employment."

The Royal British Legion has mounted a campaign to get Joss Stone's Poppy Appeal single No Man's Land (Green Fields of France) to number one on Remembrance Sunday. The organisation is hoping to raised £40 million by November 11.

London Poppies Draw Millions of Visitors

10 alternatives to London’s tourist traps
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Poppy site visitors urged to plan their trip carefully

After years of craning our necks up, the View from the Shard is finally open for a spot of looking down on London. It’s sleek, stylish and does boast pretty incredible views. But for a fraction of the price (£3), you can stretch your legs and take in the town from the top of The Monument. Steeped in history, the building is bursting with character to be explored. Plus you get a rather charming certificate to prove you mastered the 311 steps. A short stroll away is the Heron Tower, where you can get a beer and a bar stool with just as good a view. Sorry Shardy.

It might miss the mark on exotic animals roaming around, but London’s city farms are free and fabulous. Head to Mudchute Farm in the east (riding the front seat of the DLR as you do), and spend a morning with sheep, donkeys, pigs and llamas, all with the backdrop of Canary Wharf overseeing proceedings. The café serves excellent hot and cold food, best washed down with a glass of homemade lemonade. Other farm locations in the capital include Vauxhall, Hackney and Kentish Town.

Every fancy hotel in London promises the best afternoon tea - seriously expensive scones and prim placemats guaranteed. For much more character (and just as good cake), head to the Secret Tea Room in Soho - above the Coach and Horses at 29 Greek Street (W1D 5DH). You take your seat via the washing up sink, and absolutely nothing matches. Which is all part of the charm. Afternoon tea from £17 per person, booking recommended.

The aromas of ostrich burgers and piles of cheese samples attract over four million visitors a year to Borough Market. A treat for the all the senses, yes, but this market does get jolly busy. Take a trip out of town to Greenwich and visit the roof-covered river side market for atmosphere, crafts, clothes and mouth-watering food to go. Watch the afternoon go by from the top of the hill.

A walk through Leicester Square or down Shaftsbury Avenue shows that chip shops in London are two a penny. But there’s nothing special about those ghastly Angus restaurants on every corner. Forget airs and graces and take a seat at the outdoor seating of Rock and Sole Plaice. Not only does the oldest London chippie get five stars for its epic punnery, but the fat chips, crispy batter and hearty mugs of tea make it a winning pit stop.

If you don’t fancy a dip in a lido or cold pond when the Great British Summer is in full swing (i.e, still a wee bit chilly), head to Oasis Sports Centre for a swim in the (heated!) outdoor pool. It’s blocked in by office and housing blocks, and the odd palm tree perched pool side gives it more than enough character. All for under £5 a swim.

Queuing around the block and a £15 entry fee? We do love a fish but a family day out with our scaly friends could easily top £100 if you head to London Aquarium. Never fear, there’s a little known gem in Dulwich called The Horniman Museum, with a £3 a pop aquarium, complete with star fish, sea horses and everyone’s favourite; the jellyfish.

Get your fix of the famous Abbey from the outside, then nip down the road to its less-famous cousin, Westminster Cathedral. Entry is free, and for £5 you can get the lift to the top of the tower for a view of the capital. Let us know if you also get the slightly dodgy tale from the guide about Will proposing to Kate at the top of the Tower…

The large yellow London duck which breezes along the Thames is a familiar sight in London and it's hugely popular with tourists. But you can get (almost) as close to the water - and thankfully stay a lot drier - with a ride on the Thames Clipper boat, all for the cost of a tube ride. Hop on board at Embankment and go all the way to Greenwich to get a real feel for the shape of the city. The snake of the river will surprise even the most hardened Londoner.

You might not get the recorded guide, but you certainly see the ‘real’ London with a ride aboard a public bus route, which naturally is cheaper than a tour bus. Buy a map and aim for the front seat of the double decker on route 211, Hammersmith to Waterloo. You will see everything from the Royal Albert Hall to the London Eye, without spending a small fortune. Choose a weekday after rush hour, around 10am for the best chance of the top seat. Bus 9 leaving from Piccadilly Circus (towards Kensington) is another fabulous route for the sights. 


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London's best free attractions
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Poppy site visitors urged to plan their trip carefully

Head to Buckingham Palace where you can see the Changing the Guard ceremony for free. From May until July it takes place every day at 11.30am and on alternate days for the rest of the year, depending on the weather. The process sees a new guard exchanging duties with the old guard accompanied by a guards band. The music varies from traditional military marches to pop songs. It lasts around 45 minutes and is a must-see if you're visiting Buckingham Palace.

As the largest urban farm in London and with free entry, it's well worth visiting Mudchute Farm. The farm is located in the Isle of Dogs with 32 acres of open parkland, horse riding, a huge range of plants, farm animals and a tea shop. Events taking place throughout the year include the Easter Parade, Summer Open Day, Christmas Fair and Spooky Halloween. What more could the kids and adults need from a free day out? Visit mudchute.org

Art and design enthusiasts will love the Victoria and Albert Museum, which celebrates 5,000 years of art from the UK and beyond. Its collections include fashion, photography, books and furniture among many others. Don't miss the world's oldest dated carpet in the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, silver and gold dating back to medieval times in the Whiteley Silver Galleries and the temple sculptures in the Buddhist Sculpture Gallery. Visit vam.ac.uk

Music buffs should visit the famous pelican crossing where the Beatles posed for the cover of their album Abbey Road. Here you can do the same walk and feel like a rock star too! Further up the road is Abbey Road Studios where the band recorded many of their songs, including Love Me Do and All You Need Is Love. Arrive at St John's Wood tube station, where it's a five-minute walk.

Home to Nelson's Column, the famous lion sculptures, the Fourth Plinth and lots of pigeons, Trafalgar Square is one of the capital's most vibrant open spaces and a must-see attraction if you're visiting London. Events like St Patrick's Day, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year are celebrated here throughout the year and at Christmas, you can see the huge Christmas tree given as a gift from Norway. Close by you'll find Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden, just a short walk away.

The whole family can enjoy a day out at Greenwich Park, where you can play Frisbee, have a picnic and check out the views of Canary Wharf, the River Thames and St Paul's Cathedral from London's oldest enclosed Royal Park. Other things to see around the park include the Greenwich Meridian Line, the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Old Royal Naval College. Visit royalparks.gov.uk

The National Gallery has one of the greatest collections of Western European paintings in the world and it's free to visit. Here you can see Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Monet's Bathers at La Grenouillere and da Vinci's The Virgin of the Rocks. You can get closer to the paintings with free tours, trails and talks, plus it's located in one of the capital's most iconic settings, Trafalgar Square. Visit nationalgallery.org.uk

This renowned gourmet food market is foodie heaven, with producers from all over the country selling fresh produce including breads, coffees, cakes, cheeses, ciders, meat and fish. There's international food too, with treats from as far as Mexico and India. Borough Market is open from Thursday to Sunday and is located near London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral. Visit boroughmarket.org.uk

Enjoy stunning views of some of the city's most iconic landmarks, like Big Ben, the London Eye and the River Thames from London's South Bank. You'll find restaurants, shops, art venues, theatres and street entertainment here for a fun day out the whole family will love. The riverside walkway is ideal for people watching and admiring some of London's most impressive architecture. Don't miss browsing amazing art at Tate Modern and walking the Millennium Bridge to get closer to the Thames. Visit southbanklondon.com

If you're looking for one of the UK's best free attractions, it's the British Museum, where you can explore collections of art and artefacts ranging from prehistoric to modern times. There are trails for children, free activity backpacks and you can use the museum's library and art supplies free of charge. Don't miss the architecture of the Great Court (pictured), the Rosetta Stone and the Mold Gold Cape. Visit britishmuseum.org

Explore the BFI National Archive at the Mediatheque hidden under Waterloo Bridge, where you can watch rare and extraordinary titles in British film and TV for free in the digital jukebox. All you have to do is log on to a viewing station and choose from over 2,000 films and TV programmes to view. Some great titles include London Calling, Essentially British and Reality Bites. Visit bfi.org.uk

This neo-Gothic wonder that dates back to the mid-19th century and is home to Big Ben is full of houses - most famously the House of Commons and House of Lords. UK residents can visit the Palace of Westminster, as it's also known, and even reserve a spot to watch the antics during Parliament sessions through their local MP. You can experience a 75-minute tour of the Palace and climb the 334 steps to the top of Big Ben. It's all free but you will need to book months in advance as demand is high. Visit parliament.uk

If you love browsing as much as you do shopping, Columbia Road Market in London's East End is a top place to visit and where you can see the street ablaze with a wide variety of beautiful flowers. There's everything from bedding plants to 10-foot banana trees and a lovely atmosphere with a great scent in the air. Market day is Sunday and it's open until 3pm, so you can take a leisurely stroll while listening to the chants of the flower sellers. There are also vintage clothes stores, art galleries and independent shops lining the street - a great shopping experience, even if you're not buying anything. Visit columbiaroad.info

Visit London's largest public gallery dedicated to photography from emerging talent and established artists to see photography in all its forms. The Photographers' Gallery was founded in 1971 by Sue Davies, OBE at 8 Great Newport Street in a converted Lyon's Tea Bar and in 1980 it expanded to included gallery space at 5 Great Newport Street. At Britain's first independent gallery devoted to photography, you can see exhibitions like Camera Obscura and browse a unique range of experimental cameras in the Bookshop that aren't available on the High Street. Visit thephotographersgallery.org.uk

One of London's most popular open spaces with hills, ancient woodlands and ponds, Hampstead Heath, boasts beautiful countryside and rich wildlife in the city. The Heath, as it's locally known, is one of the highest points of London and runs from Hampstead to Highgate. It's ideal for a family day out with a huge range of recreational opportunities, like walking, swimming, kite-flying and petanque. The Heath is home to a zoo, an athletics track, three swimming ponds, a lido and an adventure playground for children. It adjoins the attractive Kenwood House and is where you'll find Parliament Hill, which has a spectacular view over London that's protected by law.

Love books? Then you need to experience the Carnaby Book Exchange where you can pick up a book, relax in an armchair and explore a huge range of topics like fashion, travel, music, photography and history. It's located in Kingley Court, just off Carnaby Street and is the perfect place to get some peace in London. Plus if you bring a book that you no longer want, you can leave it here and pick up another for free! Visit carnaby.co.uk

Ever wondered where Londoners go on unexpectedly sunny days? The city is home to some great lidos, like Tooting Bec and London Fields, which sees flocks of Londoners on hot summer days. But for swimming without the chlorine, head to the freshwater Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park, which is lots of fun for adults and children. There are 110 yards of open-water swimming, a good spot for sunbathing, changing facilities, a playground and a child-safe paddle pool. Who needs the beach when you can have all this in the middle of London?

Movie buffs should visit Temple Church off Fleet Street, which was a setting for the film The Da Vinci Code. The 12th-century church was where an action-packed scene took place, which saw characters Robert Langdon, Sophie Neveau and Leigh Teabing arrive here pursuing the answer to their latest riddle. Temple Church has antique mystery, with a dark atmosphere and Gothic-Romanesque architecture. In the old round church lays the 10 knightly effigies that are positioned in different ways and were believed to be tombs until it was revealed there were no bodies after World War 2. Don't miss the Oblong with its colourful stained glass windows and the Norman door for its circle of grotesque portrait heads. Free on most Sundays from 2-4pm. Visit templechurch.com

With lots of unusual clothes, second-hand furniture and bric-a-brac to browse, Brick Market is a great place to visit on a Sunday when you can soak up the vibrant East End atmosphere without having to spend a penny. At the bustling artistic hub you'll see street performers and can spend hours looking at the enormous range of goodies, with everything from cheap leather jackets to old magazines and Art Deco furniture on sale. There are plenty of inexpensive ethnic restaurants and cafes lining the street if you want to stop for lunch, including Bangladeshi curry houses and Jewish bagel shops.

For stunning views of London and one of the capital's best spots to watch a sunset, head to this hill located on the north side of Regent's Park. You can see clear views of central London to the South East, as well as Belsize Park and Hampstead in North London. With Primrose Hill being one of the city's more fashionable districts and an exclusive residential area, you may even bump into some celebrities who live in the area. The hill is ideal for a day in the sun and a top spot to enjoy London outdoors.

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